Homily for August 3, 2014: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Fr. Jim Miller

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 3, 2014

Reading 1 is 55:1-3

Responsorial Psalm ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18

R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

reading 2 rom 8:35, 37-39

Gospel mt 14:13-21



I find the first reading from Isaiah hopeful but also in some sense not very realistic.   To see an invitation for those who have no money to come and eat and to drink wine and milk without paying is truly amazing.   I had a man come to the office wanting money to return home because his mother and sister were in a car accident and when I asked questions to verify the accuracy of what he was saying he became upset with me.   He did not have an ID to give me but thought I should help him at his word without  verification.  I did not help him and he has not returned.   I did help two others who came looking for some assistance.

The next line in Isaiah states, “Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?”  This gives us a good reason to look at our spending habits.  When I receive my check from the parish I immediately write a check of gratitude to the parish and also give to charities and individuals with a need.  I only give to charities that I know well such as Catholic Relief Services, Maryknoll Missionaries, Habitat for Humanity, Appalachia and some local charities.   I also spend money shopping, eating, golfing, and have tried my luck at the casino and with a lottery ticket.   I have won at the casino and have enjoyed the excitement of trying to find a generous machine but when I leave a loser I decide that it was a time of distraction for me but not really satisfying.   At Mesquakie they would give me $10 of free play and 50 cents off of a gallon of gas but somehow I would often put in more money and the 50 cents off of a gallon of gas could become gas that cost me six or seven dollars a gallon!!   I received a flyer from Diamond Jo recently giving me $10 of free play for the purchase of a $10 free play.   If I go and buy the buffet and then play the $10 free play I will probably put in another $20 and then the buffet will have cost me $30 so it would be wiser to go out with friends for $20 and then play cards for free.   Or I could just play bingo on Monday night!!

The people in Isaiah are in exile from their homeland and have lost everything.   God is like an oasis in the desert for them and is the answer to what they were thirsting.  

In the gospel Jesus “heart was moved with pity” when he saw the crowd looking for him after the death of John the Baptist.  The Greek word for “moved with pity” is actually more powerful than the English translation.   “Felt in his gut” would be a more accurate translation.   In his own grief at the death of John the Baptist he responded to the need of the people and cured many of the sick.    The disciples wanted to send the people away in the evening but Jesus asked them to feed the people.   Sometimes we are asked to do what seems impossible but with God’s help it becomes a reality.   God’s free gift to us we receive in our Baptism and in the Eucharist.   They satisfy us and also challenge us.  There is no true disciple who does not sense the call to mission after being truly fed; it is a hunger rooted in compassion.   At the end of Mass we are told to go and announce the Gospel.  What better way to announce the gospel than by our joy and our compassion.